My musical education was now being molded in a proper manner, under the direction of a man who knew I was playing the very best class of music as it should be played, and I never was allowed to be careless in position and appearance even when only sitting and not playing. It was made imperative that not only must I bow and finger the violin correctly, but must first learn to hold the instrument right; that I must always sit facing the directory, and never cross my legs or twine them around those of my chair. I was told that by keeping the feet firmly on the floor one could concentrate and play better, and this suggestion alone later on helped me to conquer what I thought was impossible at one time. It was fine discipline, all of which proved of great worth to me afterwards. Oh boys, if we were only more careful in the beginning with the smaller things, what a lot of time, energy and effectiveness would be saved! We all must learn by experience, however, which is the greatest teacher of all.
I remember one night at rehearsal seeing Dr. Torrington take up a violin and imitate the awkwardness of one of the members; holding the instrument in the most awkward manner imaginable, and playing a few tones with his body in a badly crouched position, he actually made us see how absolutely silly and ridiculous it was to play in an unnatural posture. We all laughed heartily at the Doctors grotesque posing, which was done in a most kindly way, but after that we were mighty careful how we sat, and played. We had been shown that the first essential for a good orchestra is appearance, after which comes the musical part to back it up. In other words, audiences as a rule never are over-educated musically, therefore, all the men sit in upright positions, in a business-like manner, and look alert and genteel, the audience never notices the little mistakes that so often occur in music. As Solomon might have put it: A good appearance is rather to be chosen than a great performance -that is, to the majority of listeners.
I seemed to possess a strong instinct for observation and analysis, even as a boy, and the superb concerts given at times by the Philharmonic Orchestra Society offered a glorious opportunity to indulge the instinct - possibly too glorious, as I often so lost myself that I forgot to play my part when listening to the chorus and great soloists singing a massive oratorio and noting the wonderful orchestral effects behind the voices - not offsetting, but up building, accentuating or accompanying them. I would read beforehand the story or plot of the work to be given, gain a general outline of the work and its meaning, then at the performance could close my eyes and listen to the whole thing interpreted in tone-pictures. It was a keen delight first to listen to a section tonally as a whole, then try to separate their many tonal colorings and analyze their grouping and effects; strings (violins, violas, cellos, double basses and harp), woodwinds (flutes, oboes, bassoons and clarinets); brasses (trumpets, horns, tromones and tubas); percussion (tympani, drums, cymbals, triangle and gong) - searching into and dissecting musical sounds and training my ears to distinguish one quality of tone from another.
What a pity that there are not more good amateur orchestras in this country today! Of course, the public school orchestras all over the country are doing a wonderful work, but unfortunately their players are confined wholly to students. I certainly am grateful for all the many advantages that come to me during my youth, also that I never knew what it was to "hang out" nights on the comers as so many boys did. My mother, who was very strict, never would allow me to go out nights except to the orchestra rehersals, and not being of a too serious disposition I confess that deep down in my heart I rejoiced that these gave me an opportunity of getting out nights once or twice a week, but I was forced to get all my lessons before I could go. My mother considered that a good education was the best asset for a successful business man, and so my lessons had to be perfect before I could think of recreation of any kind, and she being a school teacher before her marriage was able to help me greatly with my lessons at home.